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What Do I Do With … Tahini?

Tahini is perfect when I just want a little something rich and savory to spread on bread or crackers, or to thicken up a sauce, or liven up a salad dressing in a way that won’t lead to me overdoing it.

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I determined a long time ago that I cannot keep peanut butter in the house. Allergies? Quite the opposite. In fact, I love the stuff so much that I can consume an entire jar by myself—in one sitting. Ditto for almond, cashew, and hazelnut butters.

Enter tahini. It’s perfect when I just want a little something rich and savory to spread on bread or crackers, or to thicken up a sauce, or liven up a salad dressing in a way that won’t lead to me overdoing it.

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Tahini, like its nut-butter cousins, is a decadent purée made from either plain or toasted sesame seeds. It’s high in healthy fats, and boasts a pretty impressive nutritional profile with decent amounts of calcium, iron, and selenium. And it tastes great! It’s nutty and decadent, with a subtle sweetness. Yet, more than its flavor and good-for-you qualities, tahini’s most impressive selling point is its versatility.

For centuries, tahini has been a focal point in Middle Eastern cuisines, where it is transformed into dips, spreads, marinades, and desserts. Anyone who’s tried falafel has surely tasted tahini in the accompanying sauce, it’s also a vital component of most hummus recipes. When blended with a bit of liquid and added to a pan of sautéed garlic, ginger, and onions, it makes an interesting sauce for noodles, vegetables, or baked potatoes. I like to add a giant dollop of tahini to my homemade vinaigrette-style salad dressings, especially in wintertime, when my greens need a little added oomph.

Now I can indulge with these tasty recipes instead of reaching for the entire jar with a spoon in hand:

Roasted Cauliflower with Ras el Hanout Tahini Sauce
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Crunchy Green Tahini Salad
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Pepita-Sunflower-Sesame Burgers
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Aurelia d’Andrea’s passion for travel is deeply intertwined with her love of food. Whether in Perth, Prague, or Phnom Penh, she always gravitates toward local markets in search of edible treasures, and takes pleasure in recreating tasty travel memories at home in her tiny Parisian kitchen.